Day of the Dead in Spanish: 25 Chunks for El Día de los Muertos in the Mexican Culture

Celebrate the Day of the Dead in Spanish!

This Mexican holiday is an ancient tradition to honor the dead. Families build ofrendas (a place with home altars) with sugar skulls, marigold flowers and pan de muerto (a type of bread baked before the days of the holiday). In Mexico and other Latin American countries, parades, altars and celebrations are held on November 1 and 2 to pay tribute to loved ones who have passed away.

Spring Spanish has created a video explaining how you can participate in this colorful celebration of life and remembrance of our ancestors:

Join us to learn more about this beautiful tradition: how and when it’s celebrated, food, decorations, aaand most importantly, chunks related to this holiday!

1. What is the Day of the Dead (El Día de los Muertos)?

Effortless Answers

El Día de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, is a Mexican holiday that celebrates and honors deceased loved ones. It is celebrated annually on November 1st and 2nd.

November 1st is known as Día de los Inocentes (Day of the Innocents) or Día de los Angelitos (Day of the Little Angels), which honors deceased children.

November 2nd is Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) itself, which honors deceased adults.

This multi-day holiday has roots in ancient Aztec traditions and combines indigenous Mesoamerican rituals with Catholic influences from the Spanish conquistadors.

During this special holiday, families come together to hold a celebration of life and death. They all welcome back the souls of their deceased relatives for brief, imaginary reunion.

Fun fact: You might be familiar with Pixar’s animated fantasy film titled ‘Coco’. Guess what?! It is inspired by the this Mexican holiday, the Day of the Dead. Maybe it’s time to check it again!

2. Day of the Dead celebration: Costumes, makeup, decorations

El Día de los Muertos is a truly visually striking celebration.

It’s full of colorful costumes, elaborate makeup, and decorations that pay homage to the cycle of life and death.

Day of the dead makeup: The calavera

One of the most iconic elements is the calavera (skull) makeup: this is an intricate design painted on the face to resemble a decorative skull. Take look!

day of the dead in spanish skull calavera
Day of the Dead calaveras

The calavera is full of colors, flowers and celebrates the beauty of life, even in the face of death.

Day of the dead costumes

Day of the dead costumes equally feature skeleton or skull motifs. The participants of the holiday may also wear traditional Mexican attire: sombreros, rebozos and headdresses with flowers and feathers.

day of the dead in spanish costumes
Day of the Dead costumes and makeups

Day of the dead decorations

Decorations for the holiday are symbolic.

Altars, called ofrendas, are created in homes and public spaces, adorned with marigold flowers (cempasúchil), candles, photographs of deceased loved ones, and their favorite foods and beverages. These altars are a welcoming place for the souls of the departed to visit during the celebration.

day of the dead in spanish altars
Day of the Dead ofrendas (altars)

3. El día de muertos: traditional food

There are several traditional foods that are baked and prepared, and after that, enjoyed during the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) celebrations in Mexico and other Latin American countries:

  1. Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead): This bread is shaped like a rounded loaf with bone-like pieces on top, representing the deceased. It is often decorated with sugar or sesame seeds.
  2. Calaveras de Azúcar (Sugar Skulls): These colorful skull-shaped candies are made from sugar and decorated with intricate designs and patterns.
  3. Tamales: Tamales are often filled with sweet or savory fillings like pineapple, raisins, or chicken.
  4. Mole: A rich, complex sauce made with various chiles, spices, and chocolate, mole is a traditional dish served during the holiday.
  5. Atole: A warm, thick beverage made from masa (corn dough), water, and flavored with fruits, chocolate, or other ingredients.
  6. Fruits: Seasonal fruits like oranges, bananas, and sugarcane are used as offerings on the altars.
  7. Calabaza en Dulce (Candied Pumpkin): Pumpkin is a traditional ingredient, often candied or made into sweet treats.
  8. Champurrado (Mexican Hot Chocolate): A thick, rich chocolate drink flavored with cinnamon and other spices.
day of the dead in spanish mexican altars
A Mexican tamales plate

These traditional foods hold symbolic importance. They represent the cycle of life and death, as well as the welcoming of the souls of the deceased back to the land of the living.

If you’re interested in more Spanish food vocabulary, read on!

4. Day of the Dead in Spanish areas: festivity and parade

This holiday is also celebrated with parades and festivities. Not just in Mexico, but in other Latin American countries and Spanish-speaking countries.

One of the most famous Day of the Dead parades takes place in Mexico City. Thousands of participants are dressed in elaborate costumes and skull makeup take to the streets. The parade is full of towering floats, skeleton marionettes, and dancers performing traditional dances.

day of the dead in spanish parade

In other cities and towns across Mexico, locals organize smaller parades and processions. Children also participate, carrying sugar skulls or wearing costumes that represent calacas (skeletons) or catrinas (elegant skull figures).

5. Celebrate Día de Los Muertos with these chunks and phrases in Spanish

The next table gives you a list of common Spanish chunks and phrases related to the Day of the Dead celebrations. The chunks will help you talk about the holiday in Mexico and other Latin American countries.

Discover traditional foods, decorations, makeups, costumes and more!

SpanishEnglish
Día de los MuertosDay of the Dead
OfrendaAltar or offering for the deceased
Calavera de azúcarSugar skull
Pan de muertoBread of the dead
CempasúchilMarigold flowers
CalacaSkeleton figure
CatrinaElegant skull figure
Altar de muertosDay of the Dead altar
Desfile de Día de MuertosDay of the Dead parade
Celebración de Día de MuertosDay of the Dead celebration
Honrar a los difuntosHonor the deceased
Recibir las ánimasWelcome the souls of the deceased
Tradicional mexicanaMexican tradition
Raíces aztecasAztec roots
Herencia culturalCultural heritage
Ofrendas de comidaFood offerings
VeladorasCandles
Flores de cempasúchilMarigold flowers
Recuerdos de los seres queridosMemories of loved ones
Danzas tradicionalesTraditional dances
Música de mariachiMariachi music
Calaveras literariasLiterary skulls (satirical poems)
Altares comunitariosCommunity altars
Concursos de ofrendasAltar contests
Procesión de ánimasProcession of souls

6. Practice the chunks needed for Day of the Dead in Spanish

Fill in the blank with the words you learned from this holiday article!

Curious to learn more about this holiday? Click the button below to learn more!

7. Learn more about the Mexican culture with Conversation Based Chunking

Día de los Muertos is a tradition-rich celebration that honors our departed loved ones.

Through ofrendas, altars, parades and festivities, the cycle of life and death is commemorated with joy and respect. We hope this blog post has inspired you to learn more about this beautiful Mexican tradition and to participate in the celebrations.

One method that could help you learn more in learning is the Conversation Based Chunking method. It’s an effective method to learn phrases in context.

Celebrate the Day of the Dead and get better in Spanish!

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